Lagos State Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Bosun Jeje, at 52 has done so well for himself. He opened up to YES INTERNATIONAL! Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, AZUH ARINZE, on some issues sometimes back in his office in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos. Below are all the things that transpired that beautiful afternoon…
How has it been as the Lagos State Commissioner for Housing?
It’s been quite challenging, but also interesting in the sense that it’s a promise made and it’s a promise we are trying to fulfill.
What gives you the greatest joy about the work you are doing now? What do you like most about being the Commissioner for Housing in Lagos State?
Yes! Service. Ability to serve the people. I’ve been looking for an avenue all this while to impact on the lives of the people and that’s why I vied for various offices, but having become the Commissioner for Housing now, housing is a challenge in Lagos State, being a mega city. So, the ability to address this challenge is a thing of joy. It’s a thing of joy that I’m serving in the capacity, in the area that I really think I will impact on people.
What don’t you like so far about your ministry and the work you are doing?
There’s nothing I don’t like. I see everything in life as a challenge; I don’t see anything as a tribulation or whatever. When you are faced with challenges or any difficulty, just believe that it’s something you can overcome. It’s the ability to turn those challenges into advantages that makes a person. So, I see whatever is difficult as a challenge and I try to tackle it in my own way.
How did you spend your first day in office as a Commissioner?
Well, I was coming into public office for the first time. The first thing is to look at the environment, meet the people you are going to work with, try to familiarize yourself with the people, try to familiarize yourself with the work itself. You can see my table now, it is full of work and files that I must treat before I go home. I don’t leave files on my table and go home. I must treat everything before I go to my house. So, you have to familiarize yourself. It’s different from my private sector. I can decide on some things myself, sitting down on my table; that I want to do it this way. But when it comes to public sector, you have to balance interests before you can do certain things.
You are still very young as a Commissioner. So far, what will you say is the most remarkable thing you have done?
I’m coming from a familiar background. That is the housing sector. I’ve been involved with construction. We call it mortgage, but I call it flexible payment, because we’ve never really practiced mortgage in Nigeria. In my own capacity in my company, we’ve been practicing flexible payment. So, looking at it, we’ve made quite a lot of policies that will aid housing in Lagos State. Everybody knows the kind of governor we work with. He’s a deep thinking man. Whatever you take to him, both of you will sit down; analyze it properly so that it will benefit Lagos and Lagosians. So, the greatest joy is that I’ve been coming out with policies and the governor has been reasoning with me; he’s been going along with me. Areas that he doesn’t understand, he will sit you down, you will analyze it and sometimes you find him agreeing with you. He’s a wonderful man to work with.
What are some of the long-term dreams you have for this ministry?
I will like it to be known that during my time; housing problems were really tackled. Not only that, the mortgage administration that has refused to work in Nigeria started working. We have been on it; the government has been on it, even before my coming as a Commissioner. I will love it to be said that during my time as Commissioner for Housing, the mortgage administration started working in Nigeria.
What kind of person is Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, at least you now interact with him daily?
He’s a workaholic. He will drive you, even if you are crawling. He’s a deep thinking man; he’s a very thorough man.
What is your relationship with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the national leader of your party?
You have just said it (cuts in). Asiwaju is the national leader of our party (All Progressives Congress). He is the leader of everybody. The governor is a leader, Asiwaju is a leader. So, we all have wonderful relationships.
One of the closest politicians to you is Dr. Muiz Adeyemi Banire, what is your relationship with him?
Banire is my brother. The relationship we have has transcended friendship. Muiz Banire is my brother.
What got you interested in politics in the first place, because we know you read Law, Sociology and also engage in other things?
Law is just the last phase of my degree. I have four degrees and I started as a banker. Well, if somebody had told me in my banking days that I was going to turn out to be a politician, I would have said no; I would have disagreed. But by and large, when you are growing up, certain things will come to your mind that you never envisage. When I joined Rotary, I discovered that service to the people is one of the things that had been in my blood that I had not really exhibited. So, when I joined Rotary, I became the president of Rotary; then I became the president of past presidents. So, along the line, I discovered that I’m always eager to serve people. So, I looked at it that which area will I serve more? And I have so many friends in politics. I just discovered that look; I need to go into politics so that my impact will be more felt by the generality of the people. I contested for House of Reps twice before the governor decided that I should come and serve as a commissioner.
What is your definition of politics?
It’s the ability to serve people. Politics is an avenue for you to serve people. It’s not an avenue for you to amass wealth or do anything. If it’s about wealth, well, with all sense of humility, I think I’m a comfortable man. But the ability to serve, that’s what I call politics.
Who are the politicians you admire and why?
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Governor (Babatunde Raji Fashola). When you combine the two, you have a perfect state. That is why Lagos State is the envy of all other states in Nigeria and it’s even acknowledged all over the world.
Now that you have delved fully into politics, your business and co, won’t they suffer?
I must say that I was a complete private man, private sector man, before my joining politics. My company is not dependent on me, whether I’m there or not. I could afford to go for one month holiday at that time, it never affected my business. At that time, we had an organogram. We have everything about the company well laid out. So, my being there or not will not affect it. Though my being there will be more felt than when I am not there. I have capable hands, and I can sleep with my two eyes closed.
What are the things about you that people out there do not know?
Well, I don’t know what people know about me outside, so I wouldn’t know what they don’t know (laughing). About myself, I’m just a quite man that likes his work. I really cherish my work and I cherish the opportunity given to me by His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State, to serve and I want to put in my best to serve to the best of my ability. That is what people might not know, that is what bothers me most and when I wake up in the morning when I pray, I pray to God that by the time I’m leaving this ministry, my impact will be so much felt that the ministry will know that somebody has passed through this place. Bosu Jeje is a quite man, a family man and the current Commissioner for Housing. I have a wonderful wife. Her name is Tokunbo. I have three kids – Mosope, Damola and Toluwanimi.
What do you do when you are not working? What do you do for relaxation?
I love reading. That is number one. The second aspect is that I like spending time with my family. My children are very, very close to me, so serving now has taken us apart a little bit, because most of the time I’m not around and I come back a little bit late. But the little time I have, I spend with my family.
Where do we see Mr. Bosun Jeje in the next five, ten years? Will you still continue with politics?
Politics is something that once you start, it’s a very hard to get out of it. But I’m not an over-ambitious politician. I am not! Once I am called to serve, I serve, once my people say you’ve served long enough, I go back. But it doesn’t take me away from politics. I will still be there; I will still be in government. I will never leave government.